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IoT at Your Service

Victory of the People on flickr

As the Internet of Things (also known as IoT) gets more and more advanced, people are finding ways to make their jobs easier using the new technology. Sometimes the technology isn’t quite advanced enough to help people, but sometimes it does a fantastic job filling a niche that people usually had to do.

One such example is in the hotel industry. In really big hotels, there are sometimes a lot of people, all over the place, each asking for something. And it can be hard for a human being to run all around and make sure everyone is happy.

However, the world of IoT can help here. In some really big and fancy hotels, they’re trying out robot room service. And by the looks of things, these robotic companions are here to stay.

The Relay robotic butler is one of the more popular models. When someone in their hotel room asks for an item, the staff load it into the Relay’s little container within its “head.” The robot then travels to the room which asked for the item, and opens its container when the door opens.

It sounds simple, but there are a lot of complicated problems that the Relay robot has learned to overcome. For instance, it needs to know how to go from the front desk to any room in the hotel.

Fortunately, hotels don’t really change a lot. The directions to get to a specific room usually stay the exact same for many years. As such, it’s not too tricky to upload the hotel’s blueprint into the robot’s brain so it knows where to go.

But that’s not quite enough for the robot. The last time you went to a hotel, did you notice other people walking through the hallways? The robot has to, so it has sensors on it that can tell what’s around it. It can detect other people moving around, any luggage left outside, and the hallway’s walls so it can avoid crashing into something (or someone!).

However, even after we’ve solved all those problems, there is still one major obstacle. Usually, big expensive hotels have more than one floor, and robots are renowned for having issues climbing stairs. And because the Relay robot runs off of wheels, climbing the flights is impossible for them.

Fortunately, the Relay has a way to get around this problem; the elevator. When it needs to change floors, it can wheel itself onto an elevator and let it take the robot where it needs to go. And it has an impressive piece of tech within it that makes this happen.

For the Relay to change floor, the robot connects to a Wi-Fi network that the hotel’s elevators also use. When the robot needs to go to a different floor, it sends a request over the Wi-Fi connection to the elevator, much like when you press the button to call one. The elevator then travels to the Relay’s location and lets it on.

The Relay rides the elevator like normal, but it doesn’t have a way to tell when it has arrived on its floor. However, the elevator knows which floor it’s on, so it uses the Wi-Fi connection to tell the robot when it’s on the correct floor. When it’s on the desired floor, the Relay detects when the doors open and leaves to continue its quest to the correct hotel door.

This relationship between the Relay and the elevator allows for some amazing compatibility between the two. There are multitudes of videos online showing a Relay calling an elevator, boarding it, then riding it to the correct floor without human help, as if by magic. But there are no spells here; just a Wi-Fi connection.

With these robots now making the rounds in hotels, it’s fun to think about where else these robots can be used. Where do you see them helping out? Perhaps they can help deliver medicine in hospitals to patients that need them? Or maybe restaurants would be better off if it delivered food via robot? The possibilities are endless!

Learn More

Enabling Smart Hotels of the Future


Hospitality Technology


Robots in Hotels


Robots in the Hospitality Industry


Now Hiring: Robots Welcome to Apply


Robots Filling Staffing Shortages


Robot Room Service


Hospitality Goes Hi-Tech


Advantages and Disadvantages of Hotel Robots


The Relay Robotics explanatory video